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The Basics of Blockchain and Its Mission to Secure the Healthcare System

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Your health should not have to wait in line to get checked up. How often do you find yourself going back and forth between your family physician, then to the laboratory for a blood test, and back to your doctor for another check up? Not to mention waiting in the dreary room even though you had your appointment booked days in advance. The amount of hours this process takes eventually leads people to postpone their health when in fact it should have been taken care of immediately.  

Well, that is where the savior concept of blockchain comes in, and it’s crucial for everyone to understand what is up-and-coming. Before any discussion can be held on the application of blockchain, we must have a clear definition of what blockchain is and how this concept applies to your healthcare needs.

https://www.maxpixel.net/Cryptocurrency-Virtual-Blockchain-Currency-Network-3277335

An Easy Understanding of Blockchain for Beginners

In the past several months, recent news articles have been hyping up the legitimacy of applying blockchain methods to other industries, and one of biggest areas is the Healthcare Information Technology (IT) sector. The blockchain is the new foundation of the Internet for over a decade. It derived from the idea of bitcoin, which is a digital currency method that has close to $112 billion in value in the United States. Now, the tech community has expanded the value of economic transactions that are made virtually. Basically, blockchain has become the foundation of the new type of Internet, and it’s a revolution for incorruption and systemic efficiency.

The blockchain is simply another type of cryptocurrency such as the bitcoin. It is like a public ledger system where individuals can record their transactions; in regards to healthcare, these transactions are datasets such as blood tests, surgeries, implants, insurance information, and more. Each transaction is a “block” (hence the title of blockchain) and the blocks are added to other existing blocks until it creates a “chain”. Once each block is verified and approved, it is added to the public log and remains permanent.

If you still don’t know how it works, that’s okay. You actually don’t need to know the specific technicalities of how it works to use it, just like the Internet.

Basically, blockchain has become the foundation of the new type of Internet, and it’s a revolution for incorruption and systemic efficiency.”

Let’s put this concept from the perspective of a NBA basketball game. There are generally two teams, a scorekeeper, and a referee. All players must unanimously agree on the rules beforehand so that no one is cheating or making foul plays. Fans are watching the game and can help maintain the system to keep it in check.

Analogous to blockchain, each block is the score and all the fans and spectators help keep them in check of the rules. To reward those who help keep accurate scores, now fans can get rewarded for keeping the system updated and in check. Whoever is the first to correctly verify and approve the score (or “block”) will get rewarded for contributing to the public log system. Now, even though the fans are not the actual million dollar basketball players, they have the opportunity to gain benefits for their contribution to the overall score.

Same as the cryptocurrency, users who are not even involved in the transactions but also part of the blockchain node also keeps track of transactions as well and record their own blocks. The way logs across the system remain exact copies of each other as new blocks are updated and added is through solving a sort of computational math puzzle.

https://torange.biz/fx/consult-doctor-internet-bitcoin-176916

The Impact of Blockchain on Healthcare

The impact of blockchain could potentially have on the healthcare sector are numerous. It has a high potential to generate easier access and sharing of information for healthcare records. More time will be saved with the accessibility to track and ship for supply chains. Blockchains can also aid in the medical recording by providing an immutable medical record that cannot be changed, aiding in any legal cases in which an untampered medical record is needed. Patient records can be consolidated into a single record; lab results, treatments, disease registries, treatments, etc. can all be compounded together to give a holistic view of patient history so that providers can plan better strategies of healthcare. You will no longer find yourself wasting time back and forth between each lab and all your data will be in one safe place.

List of blockchain benefits:

  • Patient data sharing issues can also be addressed across state borders, where regulations regarding patient privacy and consent vary from state to state.
  • Permission checking will keep patient data secure while granting easy information access for other permitted parties to view. It can also assist in settling payments between insurance providers, hospitals, and patients.
  • Patients can be also incentivized and rewarded from following a care plan, following appointments, and staying healthy through the blockchain system.
  • Patients may also be rewarded for sharing their data with clinical trials and research.

https://www.maxpixel.net/Cryptocurrency-Virtual-Blockchain-Currency-Network-3277335

The Reality of Blockchain

Blockchain definitely has its ups, but those come with its downsides. It is not designed for the use of analytics. Blockchains has issues with transactional performance; for example, bitcoin runs at around 7 transactions per second. To put in an easier context to understand, 7 transactions is almost nothing compared to something like VISA, where around 24,000 transactions are recorded per second! It has problems with large data storage over time and scalability issues. Because the logs have to be recorded, it can lead to large numbers of information that gets repossessed, leading to high inefficiency costs. Greater research is still ongoing to optimize data transfer within blockchain.

If the problems currently facing blockchain can be resolved, then we may be able to enjoy faster and more efficient healthcare in the future. There wouldn’t be a need to wait in line at the doctor’s office while the office workers call various providers and to see if you are qualified to receive care. Doctors would be able to streamline your personal healthcare plans by having access to your past healthcare plans and plan accordingly to how different methods have worked and what new steps could be taken. You can be more involved in your own health by having up-to-date biometrics data, monitoring your own progress, and keeping up a routine of visiting your healthcare provider on a regular basis.

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Covid-19

5 Apps for Grocery Delivery

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are practicing social distancing everywhere they go to stay safe and wear face masks. Utilizing apps for grocery delivery can help those who may be sick or are at high risk and are trying to minimize their person-to-person contact.
Here is a list of grocery delivery apps that you can use.

Walmart

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Walmart’s same-day delivery offers fresh produce, frozen and refrigerated foods. You can use the application on your smartphone or access it on the website. Fees are $9.99 per order and offer other memberships that can be used nationwide. It could be something to consider if using the app at least once per month.
Walmart offers a wide variety of products, and because they don’t outsource their delivery service, the prices are the same as they are in the store.

Instacart

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Instacart is a grocery delivery service that partners with grocery stores to provide delivery from various markets. Customers can expect a wide variety of products to suit all dietary needs.
Some grocery store chains like Kroger have partnered with Instacart to directly provide grocery delivery services through their website or app that is easy for others to use.
Instacart has optional memberships, and delivery starts at $3.99 per order. The application offers same-day delivery.
Instacart personal shoppers can text you while picking your order if any substitutions are needed. You can contact Instacart support through their email or app.

Shipt

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Similar to Instacart, Shipt is a grocery delivery service that partners with grocery store chains offering delivery from a variety of stores to help meet their customers’ dietary needs.
Locations that Shipt delivers to are select metro areas, mostly across the Eastern United States, and offers same-day delivery.
This application is unique in that it requires a membership to have access to their services. In addition, Target grocery delivery is offered exclusively through Shipt.

Kroger

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Kroger is partnered with Instacart for its grocery delivery service, but you can place your order through the Kroger app or website. This ensures that you pay the same price as you would in the store or grocery pickup. Kroger also the ship-to-home option in which certain non-perishable foods and household products can be ordered online and shipped to your home. Fees for the Kroger app are $9.95 per order. The app offers same-day delivery and offers its services nationwide. 

Whole Foods

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Whole Foods Market offers customers various organic and natural products with selections, including vegan, gluten-free, and paleo. Since Whole Foods is owned by Amazon, Whole Foods works just like the Amazon Fresh program.
Products selected for delivery may still be marked up compared with in-store prices. Locations for delivery are select large cities, and you can use the app through the Amazon website.

Sources:

  1. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/walmart-shopping-grocery/id338137227
  2. https://www.walmart.com/
  3. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/instacart-grocery-
  4. https://www.instacart.com/
  5. deliveries/id545599256
  6. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/shipt-same-day-delivery/id971888874
  7. https://www.shipt.com/
  8. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/kroger/id403901186
  9. https://www.kroger.com/
  10. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/whole-foods-market/id320029256
  11. https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/
  12. https://www.amazon.com/alm/storefront?almBrandId=VUZHIFdob2xlIEZvb2Rz&tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=446296169707&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13143989830767076577&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9031436&hvtargid=kwd-298038170148&ref=pd_sl_5vpiiqsu57_e&hydadcr=6133_11249905&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjqC-tdXw6gIVExLnCh3xag0EEAAYAiAAEgLvDPD_BwE

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Covid-19

Portable X-Ray Receives FDA Clearance for COVID Testing

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New forms of COVID-19 testing continue to emerge as companies use innovative techniques to determine if an individual could have the virus. From CRISPR testing approval from the FDA to an automated robot conducting COVID-19 testing, a new method from Aspenstate has just been announced.

A lightweight, portable X-ray system from Aspenstate known as the AiRTouch has received FDA clearance. This form of testing could be beneficial for quickly obtaining chest X-rays from potential COVID-19 patients. The AiRTouch weighs 5.5 pounds (2.5 Kg) and looks like a large touchscreen digital camera. The device takes a picture with a push of a button and can wirelessly transfer the images to a clinical image storage system or PACS without a computer. The battery from AiRTouch can charge within two hours and can obtain up to 300 exposures per charge. 

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This portable X-ray system could be useful for quickly obtaining chest X-rays of COVID-19 patients.  According to the company, its portability has already made it useful in drive-through screening centers in South Korea

“Our clients have noticed a dramatic increase in capacity and the ability to move patients through quickly and efficiently,” David Lee, Vice President and COO of Aspenstate, stated. 

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Lee went on to say that the device is very simple to use with the integrated software, and portable features allow the use of the device outside of conventional X-ray resources. The company believes the AiRTouch for chest X-rays for COVID-19 could also be used in urgent care facilities, ambulances, sports medicine, extremities, dental, and veterinary settings

Check out this video on the AiRTouch:

Sources: 

  1. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/05/07/new-crispr-test-for-covid-19-could-be-a-simple-at-home-diagnostic-test-according-to-scientists/
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/05/safe-covid-19-testing-performed-by-automated-rob
  3. https://www.medgadget.com/2020/05/airtouch-portable-x-ray-receives-fda-clearance.htmlot/

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Covid-19

Safe COVID-19 Testing Performed by Automated Robot

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Medical professionals testing people for COVID-19 usually involves performing a throat swab to collect a sample for processing. Clinicians that are collecting COVID-19 samples from individuals must wear an entire package of personal protective equipment (PPE) that can be quite uncomfortable when worn for long periods. Since the expansion of test sampling is now being conducted outside of clinical facilities and with temperatures rising, wearing protective gear can become difficult for clinicians.

In Denmark, a team of robotic engineers at the University of Southern Denmark have designed a machine that can conduct throat swabs automatically without a human clinician present in the facility. The robot reaches into the throat and moves a swab against the selected tissue within. After the sample is collected, it stores the swab into a glass jar and seals the top shut.  

The robot was trained to be gentle, and volunteers who have already been swabbed by the device have reported no discomfort. Further trials are needed to confirm the efficiency of the new machine and to ensure that no malfunction can occur. To help market and manufacture the new robot, the engineers that developed it have started up a company called Lifeline Robotics. The engineers hope to have devices testing people for COVID-19 as early as late June, but the advanced technology is sure to be useful when the pandemic is over. 

Here are some videos to demonstrate how the machine works:

Sources: 

  1. https://www.medgadget.com/2020/06/automated-robot-takes-swabs-for-safe-covid-19-testing.html
  2. https://www.lifelinerobotics.com/

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